Cartamundi’s purchase of the U.S. Playing Card Company has rocked the magic world. Although the sale is not scheduled to be final until this summer, it has already set a bright line between the pro-sale and anti-sale forces.
As the fives of loyal readers of Inside Magic know, we do not take an official position on the conglomeration or acquisition of companies related to magic or the variety arts.
[Yes, we recall that this hard-and-fast rule was broken on two occasions: the merger of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (Martin & Lewis Combo Doomed to Failure!) (July 24, 1945); and the manufacturer of fine wood magical pieces, Tree Top Trix, with metal and Plexiglas® effects maker Modern Magic Studios (What Do You Get When You Combine Wood and Plastic? We Don’t Know But We Wouldn’t Eat It) (April 12, 1966). As it turns out, we were wrong on both counts. Martin & Lewis went on to be very successful and Top Plastrix turned out some great effects (although only one was digestible and even then only inadvertently and the subject of much litigation leading to the magic studio’s ultimate bankruptcy. “Mini-Marbles from Nowhere” was a trick just begging to be Exhibit A in litigation,” New York Times, February 19, 1972)]
There is a reason we love Inside Magic Favorite David Copperfield. He is not just a great performer but an outstanding innovator. According to The Hill, his latest public attempt will be to restore the 15th star on the Smithsonian’s flag from the war of 1812.
We have checked the magic catalogs we keep in our vault and under our mattress, and did an extensive search of all on-line magic stores but have failed to find the Restore a Star on a Historic Flag trick. We found several tricks involving flags (Sympathetic Silks with Flag; Unsympathetic Silks with Unsympathetic Flag; Flag through Body; Flag Hat from Paper Tear; Torn and Restored Flag; Burnt and Restored Flag;Washed and Dried Flag to Doves; Washed and Dried Doves to Flag; Cups and Balls (presumably with some flag oriented finale); Appearing Flagstaff; Disappearing Flagstaff; The Town of Flagstaff (this may be an entry from an Arizona specific map but we include it just in case – plus we are paid by the word); Flag through Nose (this is actually a medical procedure documented in a 1920s version of the Journal of the American Medical Association but could be considered magical by some); Restoring Stars to Paper; Restoring Torn Stars (please be very careful when searching for this item and spell “Torn” with precision to avoid unwanted photographic and video results); and a patriotic version of the classic “What’s Next” with stars rather than dots made during the American Bicentennial (we think that was around 1976 but need to verify). Continue reading “David Copperfield to Add Star to Historic Flag”→
Magician and illusionist goes by the name “The Sorceress” and is excited to be the first female on stage with the fabulously popular The Illusionists – Live from Broadway” tour, scheduled to stop this weekend at the Easton State Theatre.
Sabine Van Diemen has a background as a model and dancer, but this weekend she will perform our art (and include some of her dancing chops)
Ms. Van Diemen told the Morning Call’s reporter it is “really cool” to be the first and only woman on the tour.
She will be working along with An Ha Lim, “The Manipulator,” Jonathan Goodwin, “The Daredevil” Colin Cloud, “The Deductionist,” Paul Debak, “The Trickster,” and Raymond Crowe, “The Unusualist.”
Some have referred to the show as “Magic’s Cirque du Soleil” but we think it is better classified as a Tour de Force of great performers doing what each does best.
Ms. Van Diemen has been at it for about ten years and includes illusions, escapes and an effect you cannot buy online, a trick featuring a bullwhip.
She started as many of us did, as a ballerina when she was just 4 and joined the Holland Show Ballet when she turned 18.
She became focused on magic when “a magician in the show and one of the assistants had an injury one day,” she says. “They put me in the illusion called the fire cage, and I immediately loved it.”
She moved from modeling and dance to studying our wonderful craft.
In 2011 she met famous Dutch illusionist Hans Klok and worked together to create several hit shows. We know Mr. Klok from his high-speed performance of magic and illusions. We imagine working with him would be exhausting. We get out of breath just breathing hard. Ms. Van Diemen said of that partnership, “It was a rush.”
The two toured the globe and she was named the Silver Clown winner at the Circus Festival in Monte Carlo. She started a solo act and was undaunted by being one of the few female performers in a very male dominated craft.
Ms. Van Diemen is able to speak multiple languages, has model looks and a great background in dance. That could be the reason for her success or perhaps it is her daring willingness to take on dangerous escapes and full-scale stage illusions. Whilst in Holland, she was named one of permanent hosts and perfomer at “Amsterdam Magic” and was featured on “Holland’s Got Talent.”
She moved from Holland to London to be one of the cast of the 2015 show “Impossible” and was asked to be one of “four horsemen” featured in the “Now You See Me Live” international magic tour.
Ms. Van Diemen says “Modeling is far behind me, but dancing will always be a part of me, so naturally I incorporate it in my act. Not that I necessarily do full-on choreography, but it’s in the way I move and hold myself on stage. I try to combine speech with movement to music while I do my illusions.”
Yes, but what about the bullwhip trick?
“The bullwhip is fun and exciting. It has a very surprising ending to it for one member of the audience.”
Sabine told reporters she enjoys working along with the other great performers on “The Illusionists” and “loves” the nickname “The Sorceress.”
“It’s cool,” she says. “It really sounds like a power chick, and I always strive to be one.”
It is a wonderful production and plus you get to see a trick with a bullwhip.
Sedona is a magical place anyway; so adding magicians Steve Wastell and John Shryock to close out their annual Sedona Wolf Week (aka “SWW”) is only appropriate. In our book (Ways to Close out Annual Weeks: An Examination of the Proper Way to Close out Weeks in this Fast Moving Environment, Muffin Press 1972), it is necessary.
The two performers will put on their coup de gras (literally, “coupe of the grass” – an old French term that meant the time when lawn grass takes over the world and can drive any car it chooses. It was the subject of a utopian (or dystopian – if you root for humans to stay on the top of the food chain) novel by Larry Orwell, George Orwell’s younger brother).
The two will be performing Saturday, March 30, during the closing night dinner.
Best of all money raised will be used provide transport, rescue, and lifesaving medical care to wolves, wolfdogs, sanctuaries, rescues and other wolf supporting organizations.
This is the third year for the SWW, a collaboration betwixt Plan B to Save Wolves and Apex Protection Project. The organizations’ mission is to change the way people view wolves and to influence government policy development “regarding wolves while creating respect and protections for this essential apex predator.”
Mr. Wastell told reporters that A true magician doesn’t merely “do tricks.” A true magician connects with their audience and takes them to a place of wonder. Mr. Wastell has been dubbed “a master magician and a great entertainer.”
Mr. Wastell seeks to bring magic in to the modern age, eschewing bunnies, rings and ropes (coincidentally, “bunnies, rings and ropes” was the name of our first filmstrip produced to promote safety in the use of all three items).
“John Shryock, a famous entertainer, known for his million dollar smile has performed in over 100 cities across three continents. Shryock and Mari Lynn are regularly featured on television and in the top casinos, night clubs, cruise ships, conventions, and resorts across the globe. Audiences worldwide have enjoyed his energetic personality, captivating ‘sleight of hand,’ and spellbinding illusions. His impressive skills earned a command performance at President George W. Bush’s Gala Inaugural Ball and numerous appearances on the nationally broadcast television series, ‘Masters of Illusion.’”
The seating for the show is very limited (one per chair) and is expected to sell out. To purchase tickets, find out more information or for a full schedule of events or to get tickets, please visit www.SedonaWolf week.org or call (559) 425-6191
Mr. Parsons is coming out with a new album, titled “Secrets.” It is his first in 15 years and has a magician with cards on the cover. Already we’re intrigued. But then we read an article about the album and the man behind it on U Discover Music and learned he is a member of the Magic Castle and one of us.
The album returns to the progressive pop-rock sound for which the Project were so loved, also reflecting Parsons’ longtime interest in magic. “[It] has always been a passion of mine,” he says. “I am a member of the Magic Castle in Los Angeles. I’ve also worked with the Japanese magic company Tenyo, writing instruction books and catalogues for their tricks. I dabble with magic myself in my free time, so an album with magical influences was a natural progression.”
You read that right. This man not only wrote Eye in the Sky, produced for Pink Floyd, appeared in the West Palm Beach Auditorium (across from the Palm Beach Mall and in the same parking lot as the Expos minor league stadium) but he wrote instructions for Tenyo. Get out of town!
That means that when we read instructions for Squeeze Play, Soft Coins, Crazy Spots or even In the News, we could have been reading the words of Alan Parsons.
Finally, if you like cool pictures that seem like they must have some magic component, check out the official website for the St. Louis Gateway Arch here.
Because we lack a background in structural engineering – or most engineering for that matter – we have no idea how it stays up.
Someone told us magnets are the secret but we doubt it because we once went to the top and had magnets (our PK devices) in our pockets.
It was unintentional and there were no signs saying to not bring magnets in the special elevator that brings you to the top and we didn’t notice any shaking or swaying.
Coincidentally, the name of our first album in 1959 was “Shaking and Swaying” and the title track went nowhere on the pop charts in the U.S. but was a big hit in, of all things, elevator music catalogs. Unfortunately we sold all rights to the album and cover art to a former friend who now lives outside of Paris (technically everybody but Parisians live “outside” of Paris but you know what we mean) and has a winery (also outside of Paris but still in France).
Each year we miss the Sundance Festival and kick ourselves for it. There, wonderful films seeking distributors are offered, promoted and awarded with prizes. For instance, we first heard about La La Land through Variety’s review of the film at the Sundance Festival. We knew that if and when it was picked up by a major studio, it would be a must see.
But, because we didn’t go to the festival, we missed it.
This year we missed the Amazing Johnathan documentary. It is currently untitled but we’re guessing the words “Amazing” and “Johnathan” will be in or very near the final title.
As readers of this award winning magic news site know, we have never actually won an award and we never let the truth get in the way of a good headline or story. Readers will also know that we love the Amazing Johnathan and one of our greatest disappointments – other than our failure to play for the Chicago Cubs or even be a batboy for goodness sakes – was missing the performance of this great entertainer at the Magic Castle in what was billed as his last performance ever, anywhere.
Johnathan has a fatal heart issue and literally any show could be his last.
Nonetheless, he continues to work and provide entertainment for thousands. We saw his show in Las Vegas and laughed so hard we split our shirt collar – we always keep it buttoned to prevent body lice from either entering or escaping, depending on the season or our access to showers.
The Masters of Magic Convention is on the move from Saint-Vincent to Turin, Italy. For those already invested in the event, the good news is that only the location has changed. The dates, the program, the organization, and the cast will be exactly the same. The great news for those who did not previously sign up for what is promising to be an incredible event is that there is still time to join.
According to organizers, Turin made a strong case for moving the convention to their location. Locations and hotels will be identified to participants in the near future. But the good news is that the prices will not increase despite the fact that the number of performers will increase and the convention will have additional activities outside of the convention and even a special program for non-magician guests. The seats previously selected for the big Gala Show will stay the same too.
The World Championship of Street Magic will as well be organized in Turin on May 17-18-19. If you think you have what it takes or would just like to see what you have, drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form.
So, let’s recount. The convention is moving to Turin – a great city with an amazing history – adding features for magicians and non-magicians alike, holding the Street Magic competition and keeping the same prices. Who will be there you ask? Oh, some folks you may have heard of before such as: Derek DelGaudio. Luis Piedrahita, Marco Tempest, Juan Tamariz, Morgan Strebler, Niek Takens, Raul Cremona, Luis Otero, Roberto Giobbi, Stuart MacDonald, Jay Sankey, Den Den, Aaron Pang, Omar Pasha. Organizers promise even more to come.
We are finagling our books and working favors to find a way to attend. It sounds like our kind of event. If you are interested in learning more, check out their website here.
We heard from Rebecca Kaufman of Potter & Potter Auctions that this December 15th, the distinguished auction house will hold an online only magic auction.
Magicians and collectors will be able to select from more than 200 magic collectibles, posters, books, ephemera, and apparatus.
While the auction will be traditional in most ways it will have no live floor or phone bidding. You can check out the items to be offered online in their beautiful catalog but you can only purchase the items, one lot at a time, on the day of the auction.
Lot 208, a Wu-Ling Pagoda Mystery, made in Los Angeles by F.G. Thayer & Co. in the mid-1940s.
Lot 198, a disembodied wooden rapping Hand, made in New York by Hornmann around 1918.
Lot 183, a Walter Sheppard 1990s era head chopper stage illusion with quality paint and a dragon motif.
Lot 163, an Insull for Lewis Davenport 1950s era talking skull prop.
Lot 129, a Stanislaw Miedza-Tomaszewski for Cyrk “Sawing in Half Poster” from 1967.
Lot 113, A c. 1900 Casino de Paris color litho of Annie Abbott, known as the “The Little Georgia Magnet,” alongside vignettes depicting her feats of strength.
It is this last piece that intrigues us the most. We are a student of “The Little Georgia Magnet” and her story. It was an amazing time in our magic history and some of her effects are still being performed today. We also noticed that the other items belie magic’s macabre side. Disembodied hands, talking skulls, slicing women in half and a head chopper.
When we were younger than now, we used to do the finger chopper sold in most magic and novelty stores. It was a great trick but we had dreams of one day getting an Abbott’s Discecto or a proper hand chopper. We once even moved up to the head chopper for stage performances and finally a guillotine.
We were asked after a show if we thought it proper to do a full-sized guillotine illusion for party guests ranging from 4 to 7 years of age.
The question came from a little kid who was not related to the person paying us for the show but we still took it seriously – or at least gave the impression that we did – as we packed up the illusion in the back of our Volkswagen Fastback to head to our next engagement. It was a non-magic engagement, we had to buy puppy treats because of a bet we lost with our dog.
Geno Munari, magician and owner of Houdini’s Magic Shop in Las Vegas and, most importantly for us here in Southern California, Disneyland, had a key role in finding historical documents related to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Harry Connick, father of performer Harry Connick, Jr. served as district attorney in New Orleans and in that role ordered the destruction of files related to JFK’s assassination. Apparently the order wasn’t followed and some of the files, 67 boxes in total, remained. The police officer charged with destroying the documents thought they may have some historical relevance and copied them for safekeeping.
Years or decades later, the files showed up on eBay and Mr. Munari bought them.
Investigation enthusiasts and scholars are delighted the files still exist and are combing the boxes for insight into the assassination, according to the website American Free Press.
As a side note, Inside Magic once uncovered files relating to the attempted theft of a magic trick invented by a rather famous magician who travelled through the United States.
Paw Paw Lawton was a part of the Inside Magic staff back in the day when we distributed this blog through cutting and pasting together a newsletter sent to over 20 subscribers on our list (six were members of our own family or claimed to be related by marriage. The image above was our first logo. In the latter case, it turned out that Tony Spain was not properly married to our sister-in-law because he had been married three previous times, to the same woman, and none of those marriages were properly ended by divorce.
Tony has held a grudge against Inside Magic since and once had a website called, Down with Inside Magic and its Terrible Blogging (downwithinsidemagicanditsterribleblogging.io). That site became inactive after one or two (actually one and a half) blog posts and our recent check of the very tough to remember or type URL shows the site is long gone.
Our sister-in-law was devastated and turned over to Paw a letter in which Tony was about to publish Paw’s Glass and a Half where liquid was poured into a glass from a pitcher and yet was able to hold all of the liquid poured. Sort of a Multum in Parvo but with the added benefit of no set-up. The trick was never published by Paw or Tony. Tony is lazy and never got around to publishing the secret or claiming the trick was his. Paw thought the secret was too good to share because he kept it in his act until his unfortunate passing in the early 2000s.)
But from that one experience we realized how important pieces of paper could be. We used to think paper with writing on it was a novelty that would fall out of fashion. After extensive research, spurred by our sister-in-law’s jilting, we learned that many things were written on paper; such as the Magna Carta, the Constitution of our very country, and shopping lists. That discovery in the early 1990’s essentially changed our way of thinking. So imagine how excited we are to learn that a magician, Geno Munari purchased 67 boxes of pieces of paper and audio tapes for any reason, much less the New Orleans’ investigation of the Kennedy assassination.
We are old enough to remember the assassination although our memory is only of the funeral and the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald on live television.
We credit our outstanding memory to taking some extract from jellyfish that we learned about on a late-night/early morning infomercial. We didn’t even know jellyfish had brains much less great memories. We wonder often what the typical jellyfish remembers. Perhaps good times as a young jellyfish with its jellyfish mom and dad and its ambitions to be a great jellyfish that other jellyfish will remember in their great memory banks right before they are used to make supplements that we purchase online. But that’s us.
We wonder about a lot of things, constantly.
We wonder why jellyfish, with their great memories, would put themselves into a position where they could be used for the scientists who derive the extracts. We wonder if by taking the extracts to help our own memory, we are actually capturing some of the jellyfish memories. Perhaps that is why we like the ocean so much. Maybe we are living the hopes and dreams of so many jellyfish. Or maybe we just like getting wet and having sand in our shoes and walking uncomfortably back to our car to deposit the sand throughout.
We just bought a new/used Nissan Eczema and love it but it is filled with beach sand and the interior smells of dead fish. We don’t know why they stopped making it in 1989 but it is a great car with very few seatbelts but it does have a cigar lighter that works so we have that.
Back to our story. We are delighted to see Mr. Munari’s name associated with this historical event and subsequent investigation that has lasted since the assassination of JFK – more than 15 years have passed since November 22, 1963, maybe more than 15, but at least 15 years. We’re not good at math.
The Science Channel is set to carry a docuseries titledHoudini’s Last Secrets. The series purports to be an expose of Houdini’s effects by looking at the scientific and engineering allegedly utilized in the effects performed by the great magician.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series will feature not only engineers and scientists but illusionists to “unravel the mystery around the man who caught a speeding bullet, survived live burial and imprisoned himself inside a water tank, spurring celebrity and conspiracy theories. The show will also look into the late magician’s personal life, through authentic scrapbooks, letters and pictures, to piece together his legacy.”
Each of the episodes will seek to discover the secret behind one of Houdini’s effects.
Said Science Channel General Manager “Harry Houdini is the definition of mind-blowing. He was clearly ahead of his time when it came to using engineering to accomplish his stunts, so much so that his methods continue to be debated by today’s master magicians. It’s no wonder that just the name Houdini still stirs the imagination of people, nearly a century after his death.”
Variety reports that the first effect to be explored / exposed will be the Water Torture Cell escape and the other shows will include stunts that we don’t believe Houdini actually performed such as “burning alive” and “catching a bullet.” In fact, we are rather sure Houdini did not perform the bullet catch after receiving advice from Kellar. We defer to John Cox, the Houdini expert, for his recollection.
The best scenario would be that the scientists, illusionists and engineers on the show fail to solve the mysteries and keep the secrets safe but unfortunately, we fear that won’t happen.
The show is set to premiere on the Science Channel on January 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Read The Hollywood Reporter’s exclusive on the show here.